Consultants are to be appointed to map out the route for a "key enabler" road on the northside of Cork city.
Cork City Hall will issue tenders in the coming days to map out the detailed route for the new Northern Distributor Road (NDR), an artery deemed essential for unlocking the potential for the northside and easing traffic congestion in the city centre.
The indicative route commences at the N22 and progresses northwards over the Lee valley and passes around the northside of Cork city, before connecting back to an improved road network around Tinkers' Cross.
The route identification assessment will take about 12 months to complete. A similar tender will be issued soon for the proposed southern distributor road.
The NDR will provide "walking and cycling linkages, access to radial public transport routes and support orbital public transport provision", Gerry O'Beirne, the Council's head of infrastructure development told councillors.
"It will also provide improved access to planned development lands and facilitate the removal of some through traffic from Cork city centre, thereby improving the overall performance of the road network and the environment within the city," he said.
The NDR is deemed a "critical enabler" in Cork's long-term transport plan — the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy. It is viewed as a key component of unlocking unused development land on the northside of the city, facilitating a heavy goods vehicle ban in the city centre and as a "key element" of the cycle network in the area.
It will also provide a route for an upgraded orbital bus service, linking areas such as Little Island, Blackpool, Mayfield, Knocknaheeny and Ballyvolane with the western suburbs, including UCC, CUH and CIT.
The planned design of the road includes dedicated bus and cycle infrastructure, as well as footpaths and general traffic lanes.
Cllr Tony Fitzgerald welcomed the news, describing it as a "first step" in resolving the traffic issues on the northside of the city: "It is an important step in developing links to the area.
"We know retail trade is increasing here and that is causing major traffic congestion in many areas like Sundays Well, Clogheen, Commons Road, Harbour View Road and others."
Mr Fitzgerald said the road, when finished, should remove much of this traffic from residential areas. He said it will enhance the infrastructure available for those who want to cycle or use the bus instead of driving too.
"It will enhance this connectivity from the north of the city to the west and it should decrease the need for private cars."